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We Can Work it Out | Pleasing God

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
March 8, 2022 3:00 am

We Can Work it Out | Pleasing God

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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March 8, 2022 3:00 am

To be a Christian, you don’t have to fill out a form in triplicate and have it notarized.

You don’t have to cut your hair a certain way, or get a tattoo. There are no secret handshakes or confidential passwords. But how do we know if we’re really a Christian? That’s not an insignificant question. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us evaluate ourselves to see how our commitment matches the biblical requirement. It’s a part of his Happiness Series based in Philippians.

View and subscribe to Pastor Greg’s weekly notes.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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Today's episode of A New Beginning is brought to you by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.

Learn more at harvest.org. And while you're there, browse our library of free e-books designed to help you grow in your faith. Don't tell me you're a Christian and you're blatantly breaking the commandments left and right. If you love Him, do what He says. And if you don't do what He says, really, how much do you love Him? In John 15, the Lord said, You are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you. Pastor Greg Laurie says the meaning is clear. You know, Jesus did not say, You are my friends if you do whatsoever you agree with. He said, You are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you. To be a Christian, you don't have to fill out a form and triplicate and have it notarized. You don't have to cut your hair a certain way or get a tattoo.

There are no secret handshakes or confidential passwords. But how do we know if we're really a Christian? That's not an insignificant question. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us evaluate ourselves to see how our commitment matches the biblical requirement.

It's a part of his happiness series based in Philippians. You know, sometimes people ask the question, Can a Christian lose their salvation? Let me give you a short answer.

Ready? No, I don't think so. But let me ask another question that I think addresses a deeper issue. I don't think the question should be, Can a Christian lose their salvation? I think the question should be, Did that Christian who's allegedly lost their salvation ever really have salvation to begin with?

You see. Because if they did not bring forth what the Bible calls fruits in keeping with repentance, I would suggest to you that they never were a Christian at all. Hey, just because someone carries a Bible doesn't make them a Christian. Just because someone says, Praise the Lord, it doesn't make them a Christian. The Bible says, Even the demons believe and tremble. There has to be fruit or results in their life as they work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.

Hey, here's something you might want to write down. Here are five litmus tests to show that you are really saved. Because someone will say something like this, You know, I tried the whole Christianity thing and it didn't work for me.

That drives me crazy when I hear it. Because my answer is, No, you didn't. Well, how do you know? Because Christianity is not an it.

It's a him. And it's God Almighty. And when Christ comes into a person's life, He will work in that life. So if it, in quotes, did not work, that's not about Him.

That's about you. And here's some questions I would ask the person who allegedly, quote, tried the whole Christianity thing, end quote, and it didn't work. Number one, I would ask them, Did you confess Jesus Christ as Lord? Because 1 John 4 15 says, If anyone confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him, and he in God. Did you confess Christ as Lord? Did you ever tell anyone you were a Christian? I'm not saying that all you have to do is confess Christ as Lord. Because you could do that and not be a Christian. But having said that, I think if you are a Christian, you should confess Him.

Sometimes we have people walk forward in invitations. And you've heard me quote the verse where Jesus says, If you'll confess me before men, I'll confess you before the Father, and the angels in heaven. And the reason I do that is it helps people to see this is a serious commitment that you must make.

And I'm not saying that's the only way to confess Him, but it certainly is a way to confess Him. Being a Christian is not something that is hidden, but is open. Number two, Do you obey the commands of Jesus Christ? Or did you obey them? Because 1 John 5 3 says, This is love for God, to obey His commands, and His commands are not burdensome, for everyone who is born of God overcomes the world. Did you keep His commandments?

Don't tell me you're a Christian and you're blatantly breaking the commandments left and right. If you love Him, do what He says. And if you don't do what He says, really, how much do you love Him? You know, Jesus did not say, You are my friends if you do whatsoever you agree with. He said, You are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you. Some will say, Well, what if it's hard? So what if He commands you to do it? You do it.

It's whatsoever. You say, Well, what if you disagree with the Bible? Change your opinion. You're wrong. And the Bible's right.

It's as simple as that. Also, that verse says His commandments are not burdensome. You know, do you find the Christian life miserable and confining? Does it seem to you as though God is out to spoil all your fun?

I think you're missing the point a little bit. Because if you've really met Jesus, and He's come to take residence in your heart, and you really have this love relationship with Him, I think you will want to do the things that please Him. And I think you by nature, and I would also add by a new nature given to you by God, you would not want to do the things that would displease Him.

Okay? Number three, if you're a Christian, or if you claim to have been a Christian, were you unhappy or miserable when you're sinning? Were you unhappy or miserable when you're sinning? First John 3, 9 says, Every one that has been born of God does not habitually sin, because God's seed remains in him, and he's not able habitually to sin because he's been born of God. Listen, a Christian will not be sinless, but a Christian will sin less and less and less. I think what happens is the more you become like Christ, the more you realize you're not like Christ. And the more godly you become, the more you realize how ungodly you really always were. So there's always the awareness of sin, but at the same time there is change in our behavior. There is change in our actions.

There is change in the things that we say and do. That's bringing forth fruits in keeping with repentance. But notice that it says that if you are born of God you will not habitually sin. It doesn't say you won't sin at all. Because some will say, well I've reached sinless perfection. No you haven't.

No I have. Well you're lying and that's a sin and you haven't. Because the Bible says if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. So we will never be sinless this side of heaven. But having said that if you can sin habitually.

Ok that's the key. In the Greek it says if you habitually sin. It's not like always sin. God I'm sorry. I repent.

That's one thing. It's a person that sinned and then sins the next day and the next day. In fact they are living in a pattern of sin. They are living in a lifestyle of sin. This is the choice they make over and over and over. If you live that way according to Scripture you are not really born of God.

So there should be kind of a misery there. And if you are unhappy in sin that's good. And if you are happy in sin and you don't feel any conviction or guilt wow that's a bad thing actually. You see.

I think it comes down to this. It's not that these people are losing their salvation. It's that they never really had salvation to begin with.

Look I know Christians can go astray. I know there can be prodigal sons and daughters. My mother was a prodigal for most of her adult life. And came back to faith under the wire shortly before she died.

Both of my boys for a time were prodigal sons. They knew what was right. They weren't happy living the way that they were living. But they were living in a way that was not right before the Lord. But thankfully both of them recommitted their life to the Lord.

And I think here's what it comes down to. A true believer will always come back to God. Now if someone says they are a Christian and they never come back then I would suggest to you they were never a Christian.

But if they are a Christian and they come back then that shows they are a child of God or we could call them a prodigal. Now you have all heard the story of the prodigal son right? How many of you have heard the story of the prodigal pig? Yeah that is in the Bible too. The prodigal pig. It is in 2 Peter 2. It says it would be better if they had never known the right way to live than to know it and reject the holy commandments that were given to them. They make this proverb come true. A dog returns to its vomit and a washed pig returns to the mud. I know the Bible is true for many reasons but here is one. Not just because it predicts the future accurately. Not just because everything it has said I have found true in my life but because I have seen a dog eat its own barf.

That is what it is saying. A dog returns to its own vomit. Dogs are so weird that way right? I have watched a dog throw up and eat it.

What is going on? What is going on in the dog mind there? Need a hot meal. There it is.

Really? Then later they will wash it down with some toilet water. Then they will lick us in the face and people will say oh you know a dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's.

Oh do you eat barf and drink toilet water? Because that is what that dog just did. So a dog returns to its own vomit. Why does the dog do that? Because it is a dog. And dogs do doggy things.

And he is an animal. But people want to treat dogs like little humans. The other day I slowed down for a person because they are getting their baby stroller out and I was so patient. They opened up the back of their SUV and they got it out.

It was all pink and frilly and I am just waiting and smiling. Oh wow you know. And then they pulled a dog out and I almost was mad.

Ok. I mean really. And they are pushing the dog around. Isn't it interesting no one pushes cats around in strollers. Why is that?

Maybe cats are smart in that regard. I am not getting in that. Dogs are like it is great. I am going to eat barf later.

I don't know what is happening. But then there is the pig. You know that some people are buying pigs as pets. The newest craze is a teacup pig. Which really is a pot-bellied pig.

That's what they call it. And it is just a smaller version. And you know there are articles out there telling you it is not like having a dog.

They cost more and there is a lot of trouble with them. And you know all these issues with pigs. You don't think I want a little pot-bellied pig.

I will carry the little pig around with me and you know and I will get the pig a little outfit and it will be my little. You know the pig would rather be in the slop. And you know why pigs hang out in slop. Because that is how they cool off. So a pig is happy cooling off in the slop.

Right. That is where they want to go. They want to go back to the pig pen. They want to eat all that garbage on the ground. That is a pig. Because a dog is a dog and a pig is a pig and a horse is a horse. Of course. Of course. And if you are laughing you are old or you have seen the Mr. Ed TV show.

Maybe you saw it rerun. But anyway here is my simple point. They are just doing what comes by nature. So coming back to the issue I raised earlier. A prodigal will always return to God but a pig won't. So are you a pig or a prodigal? In just a moment Pastor Greg will have his final two of the five litmus tests to help us determine if our faith is genuine. Stay with us.

Whenever you send us a letter, an email or post a comment on social media, we read every word. Pastor Greg, I've been encouraged by your teachings, your podcasts, Sunday services, online studies and everything else I can get my hands on. I now have a peace that can only come from God. I found a great church home for myself and have been attending faithfully for the past six weeks.

Today I even signed up to be part of a small group. And while I love all the things I've been learning, what has truly blessed me is seeing God change my heart. I've never shed so many tears of joy over things I see God doing all around me. And your ministry and teachings have been a big part of that. I'm so thankful and want to wish you God's richest blessings.

How have these daily studies ministered to you and your family? Would you let us know? Tell us your story by calling 1-866-871-1144. Again, 866-871-1144. Well, today Pastor Greg is giving us five litmus tests to check up on ourselves and evaluate if our faith and commitment is genuine. Let's continue.

Here's another one to others. Number four, did you keep yourself from the devil? See, if you're really a Christian, if you've really been born of God, you'll keep yourself from the devil.

First John 5 18 says, we know whoever is born of God does not sin habitually. And who has been born of God keeps himself from the devil and the wicked one does not touch him. What does it mean to keep themself from the devil? Well, the idea is that you stay as close to God as you possibly can. See, I don't keep myself saved, but I can keep myself safe. Let me say that again. I don't keep myself saved. That's God's work.

He saves me. But I keep myself safe. Because I know there are certain places if I go there, that's a bad scene for me. Like, you know, let me illustrate with food. I know there's certain places, there's certain food I like to eat in that place. And if I go there, I'm going to eat that food. But if I don't go there, I won't eat that fattening food. So I may avoid that place. So the same is true in life in general. If I go to this party, if I hang out with this person, if I watch this thing on TV, if I go to that website, trouble always follows.

Ok. News flash. Don't go to that website. Don't go to that party. Don't hang out with that person. See, instead of it, find a better place to go.

Like church for a midweek Bible study. What a great choice you made. Well done. Pat yourself on the back. Go ahead. Try. It's not that hard. Yeah.

That looked really weird. Ok. No, but I'm glad you're here. You made a really good choice here for tonight. Replace your ungodly friends with godly friends. Go to websites that will edify you and build you up in your faith.

Harvest.org isn't a bad place to go. We have a lot of goodies there. And also we have an app for your phone and daily devotionals and all our messages and all kinds of things.

But you know replace it with something that is better. The Bible says that we should keep ourselves in the love of God. So the idea of that is stay as close as I can to the Lord.

And another one. Do you love other Christians? If you're really a Christian you will love other Christians.

Why? 1 John 5 says everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God and everyone who loves the Father loves his child as well. You know when you really love someone you will love their kids too.

You know when I have friends. They have kids. Hey I love their kids too. That love extends to the children.

Right. And then the same way if we really love God we will love his children and we will want to be with his children. Some people might say well you know I can't find a church I really like. And plus on the Sunday it is my only day off.

Ok. But the Bible says don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together as a matter of some is. But exhort one another and so much more as you see the day of the Lord approaching. It doesn't say don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together unless Sunday is your only day off. Or don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together unless you want to run in a triathlon. Or don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together unless it is a good beach day.

No. It says don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together to put it in vernacular. Don't miss opportunities to be with other Christians for worship in the church.

Hearing the Word of God. I know the church has its flaws. That is because we are in it.

Right. But just remember that Jesus started and loves the church and Jesus died for the church. And 1 John 5 one says if you love the Father you will love His child as well. So if you really love God you will love His kids.

Now let me turn it around. If you don't love His kids, by that I mean fellow Christians, how much do you love God? How can you say you love God who you can't see if you won't love His people who you can see?

Start there. And so these are simple litmus tests that show that our faith is real. Here is the key. Look at verse 13.

Don't miss this. It is God that works in you both to will and do of His good pleasure. So let's look at it again. Philippians 2 starting in verse 12 Paul writes and says, Therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Which means carry it to the goal fully complete like you are in a mine. Fear and trembling was self-distrust. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God that works in you both to will and do of His good pleasure. It is God working in me. It is not me trying to imitate Jesus it is Jesus living in me and Jesus living through me you see. That is where the strength comes. I mean where did you ever get a desire to even want to open the Word of God? I will tell you that came from God Himself. Where did you ever find a desire to want to actually worship God? That too came from the Lord. So that is where we are going to get the desire to will and do of His good pleasure. This is what the Lord wants for each and every one of us so we can know we are saved. But let me just say you know some of you maybe have joined us and most of you have.

Physically at least. We are talking about being saved and you don't even know what we are saying. I think the phrase saved is a perfect expression that is very understandable.

We understand it in other settings. Someone is in a burning building. A firefighter rushes in. What do we say? They were saved.

Right? Or someone is drowning and a lifeguard goes and rescues them. What do we say? They were saved. Because they were on the brink of death and someone saved their life.

So when we talk about Christ being alive what do we say? You are saved. Saved. Saved from what? Hell. That is a big one.

It is the biggest one of all. You are saved from hell. Because you believed in Jesus you are no longer going to hell. And now you are going to heaven. But saved from what else? Saved from the power of sin.

I no longer have to be under its control. I have been set free by Christ. Saved from any addiction. Saved from any vice. Saved from anything or anyone.

And saved from the power of the devil. Oh man before I was a Christian I was like a spiritual dart board. I had no way to fend off the devil. But because Christ lives in me we already read there in 1 John the wicked one touches me not. That doesn't mean the devil can't tempt me because he can and he will. That doesn't mean the devil will not hassle me because he will do that as well. But what it means is the devil cannot control me and the devil cannot attach himself to me and certainly the devil cannot live inside of me.

It is almost like you have an ID tag hanging off you now that says property of Jesus Christ and the devil can read. And he respects it but he still wants to make your life hard. And if you are listening to him then you will have trouble. But if you keep your distance from him and keep your eyes focused on Jesus just remember God will never give you any more than you can handle. There is always a way of escape to every temptation. But saved.

I love that. In a moment we are going to pray and I am going to give you an opportunity to believe in Jesus. You might ask well what does it mean to believe in Jesus? What it means is you believe he is here.

You believe he is real. And you ask him to come into your life because when it is all said and done being a Christian is Christ living in you. And he will come and set up house in your life. He will come and take residence in your heart and be your Savior and be your Lord and be your friend and much much more.

But he will not force his way into any life. He waits for our invitation. Let's bow our heads. Father thank you for sending Jesus. And Lord Jesus thank you for coming and going to that cross and dying for our sin to save us. And thank you for rising again from the dead and now you stand here at the door of our life and you knock and if we will just hear your voice and open that door you will come in. I pray for any that are here that don't know you. Help them to come to you now we would pray in Jesus name.

Amen. Pastor Greg Laurie with an important prayer about coming to the Lord to find forgiveness of sins. And if you would like to do that Pastor Greg will help you in just a moment before today's edition of A New Beginning concludes. You know Pastor Greg we often invite listeners to write to you. We invite them to let you know how these studies impact their lives. We have mentioned your email address is simply Greg at harvest dot org. We talk to them each day but it's always nice when they talk to us.

You enjoy that. Yes I do and listen this is so we can have a two way conversation. So you can communicate with us as we continue to communicate with you and together like links in a chain we will all do our part to bring the gospel to our generation. So if you would prayerfully consider that I'd really appreciate it. Bottom line just write me a letter today. Dave will give you the address. I look forward to hearing from you. Yeah that's right our address is A New Beginning Box 4000 Riverside California 92514. Drop us a note today. And if you can include an investment so these daily studies can continue that would be great.

We are completely listener supported. You can also go online to harvest dot org. There you can make a donation and get the details on the resource we'd like to send you to thank you for your investment. Again that's harvest dot org or call us at 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call anytime at 1-800-821-3300. Pastor Greg you pointed out the importance of asking Jesus to forgive our sins a few moments ago.

Could you help those who want to do that very thing right now? Yeah you know the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ stands at the door of our life and he knocks. And if any man will hear his voice and open the door he will come in. Maybe as you've heard me speak today well you've heard another voice speaking to you.

It's the voice of God. And you realize you need Christ in your life. You need your sin forgiven. You want the assurance that you will go to heaven when you die.

Well here's what you need to do. You need to pray. And I would like to lead you in a prayer right now where you will be saying to Jesus Lord come into my life I choose to follow you.

So let's pray. Lord Jesus I know that I'm a sinner but I thank you for dying on the cross for my sin. I turn from that sin now and I put my faith in you. Be my Lord my Savior and my God and my friend. I choose to follow you Jesus from this moment forward.

Thank you for loving me and calling me and accepting me. In Jesus name I pray. Amen. Listen if you just prayed that prayer I want you to know on the authority of scripture that Christ himself has come into your life. The Bible says these things we write to you that believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

If you just prayed that prayer in minutes you can know today you have eternal life. And may I be the first to say to you welcome to the family of God. Yeah and we want to help you grow as a believer. Let us send you our new believers growth packet. We'll send it free of charge if you prayed with Pastor Greg today. Just call us at 1-800-821-3300.

We can take your call anytime. So again dial 1-800-821-3300 or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or just go to harvest.org and click on Know God. Well next time Pastor Greg presents the final message in his happiness series. It's a look at running this race of life successfully. Join us here on A New Beginning with Pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. Hey everybody thanks for listening to A New Beginning. This is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. So for more content that can help you know God and equip you to make Him known to others or to learn more about how you can become a Harvest Partner just go to harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-25 23:18:49 / 2023-05-25 23:29:41 / 11

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